Comics can be great for reviving television properties that have been in limbo for awhile. Sometimes those properties are brought back to life for their own series — like “Jem and the Holograms” — and other times, they’re ressurrected in a crossover, as we’re about to see with “The New Batman Adventures” when it returns in a new miniseries shared with “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” this fall.
Inspired by the return of classic animated Batman, CBR has compiled a list of crossovers, based on existing animated series, we’d like to see. Whether they originate from the ’60s, ’90s, or are currently on the air, we’ve carefully selected shows that deserve to see new life in comics.
So, sit back, relax (put on your Saturday morning pajamas to get in the mood if you need to) and enjoy the nostalgia trip as we muse about all the wonderful crossovers with our favorite animated properties that have yet to grace comics — and definitely need to.
10. The Maxx/Spawn
“The Maxx” and “Spawn” were two of the most mature comic book animated series out there in the ’90s. Both airing on cable channels — MTV and HBO, respectively — each series closely adapted storylines from their original comics, capturing the proper tone and stylistic integrity of the source material. We imagine it wouldn’t be too difficult to get the properties to cross paths once more, since both originated at Image and are owned wholly by their creators.
Even better, it would be amazing to see the prolific Sam Kieth (“Sandman”) back drawing new Maxx comics, and Todd McFarlane contributing in some way — whether it be story, interior art or covers. “Spawn” continues to show lasting power as an ongoing series, and “The Maxx” has seen a resurgence in popularity thanks to the remastering of the original series at IDW (See: “The Maxx Maxximized”), so there’s definitely demand for more of these characters.
9. Animaniacs/Pinky & the Brain/Freakazoid/Tiny Toon Adventures
Warner Bros. dominated the animated airwaves through the ’90s with a wave of Steven Spielberg-produced animated series: “Tiny Toon Adventures,” “Animaniacs,” “Pinky & the Brain,” and “Freakazoid.” All sharing the same universe, the series technically are spinoffs of one another, so it’s pretty easy to rationalize a crossover between the properties. Each series seamlessly injects smart humor into every episode, while keeping with the classic, “Looney Tunes”-inspired sensibility. The Spielberg-produced animated shows were a smash hit, and fondly remembered as some of WB Kids’ best programming.
Having said that, it’s been a long time since these Spielberg-produced series have seen life in comics. DC Comics obviously has the rights to the series — thanks to its Warner Bros. corporate parentage — so it’s a real mystery as to where these characters have been. There’s clearly a strong millennial audience with serious affection for “Tiny Toon Adventures,” “Animaniacs,” “Pinky & the Brain” and “Freakazoid” — so where the heck are they?!
8. Futurama/Star Trek
One of the best episodes of “Futurama” ever — cleverly titled “Where No Fan Has Gone Before” — brilliantly united the Planet Express crew with the “Star Trek: The Original Series” Enterprise crew. The episode even managed to bring back every surviving cast member from “Star Trek” to voice their original role (minus James Doohan, because he hated William Shatner that much).
We’d love to see IDW Publishing and Bongo Comics unite the two properties once again for a comedic take on “Star Trek,” which we haven’t seen in comics for a while. Not only is “Futurama” a perfect fit for crossing over with “Star Trek” because of its futuristic setting, but the endearing Trekkieness of Fry that was established on the original animated series proved that the franchises are meant to be together, even if it comes at the cost of poking fun of “Star Trek” — which “Where No Fan Has Gone Before” writer David A. Goodman did in a way that was respectful to the fandom, while being an honest criticism of its more… extreme diehards. For this crossover, we nominate “Futurama” writer Goodman to recapture the magic he created with his episode for the comic.
7. The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show/Rocket and Groot
For a ’60s animated variety show, “Rocky & Bullwinkle” was pretty ahead of its time. The series employed quite a bit of meta-textual, self-referential humor that wasn’t really seen in other animated shows — especially those watched by kids. Regardless, the series was enjoyable for children, in the same way that “Guardians of the Galaxy” works on a kid’s level, and for the adults.
Apart form the obvious similarities, the whimsy of Rocky and Bullwinkle reminds us of the lovable dynamic of Rocket Raccoon and Groot, who are soon to be showcased in their own series of animated shorts inspired by the artwork of Skottie Young. To see both properties crossover in Young’s signature style would be a real treat. Plus, the crossover could introduce kids, who might not have seen the original animated series based on that awful live-action movie, to the magic of Rocky and Bullwinkle. And wouldn’t it be great to see Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale cross paths with the cosmic villains of the Marvel Universe?
6. X-Men: The Animated Series/WildC.A.T.s
Oh “WildC.A.T.s,” where art thou? “WildC.A.T.s” — standing for “Covert Action Teams” — was the off-the-wall action series Jim Lee created upon forming Image Comics back in the early ’90s. While looking a lot like X-Men on the surface, the series proved to have its own unique cult following and memorable characters, like Grifter and Voodoo. The series even spawned a short-lived animated adaptation, which hardcore fans have had a hard-time getting their hands on, making it a bit of an enigma.
Since the New 52 (and a few years before that) “WildC.A.T.s” has been missing from DC Comics’ lineup. Though Jim Lee says something will happen with the characters soon, we imagine their resurgence in the form of a crossover with “X-Men ’92” to reintroduce the concept to fans in a fun, nostalgic way. Since the ’90s X-Men animated series leaned very heavily on Lee’s original artwork in the comics, we don’t see the properties clashing on a visual level. Rather, it would be amazing to see Lee draw the crossover — though we know that’s very unlikely these days (but we can certainly dream…).
5. Inspector Gadget/Dexter’s Laboratory
Over the course of “Dexter’s Laboratory,” it became abundantly clear that, as endearing as he was, Dexter would grow up to be a supervillain. That’s not all bad news, because the possibility of Dexter playing the villain in a comic book crossover — specifically facing off against Inspector Gadget — is the stuff of dreams. Gadget, in his own right, is quite the dummy, so to see the duo attempt to take each other down with bizarre, often malfunctioning creations, could make for great comedy and visual fun in a comic.
IDW Publishing currently holds the rights to “Dexter’s Laboratory” comics, where they’ve used the license for the character’s own series, and had him crossover with other Cartoon Network stars in Louise Simonson and Derek Charm’s “Super Secret Crisis War” event. As for “Inspector Gadget,” there have been far less comics with the property, but the last series published with the character was put out by indie publisher Viper Comics.
4. Archer/Harvey Birdman Attorney at Law
The insanity that could come from an “Archer”/”Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law” crossover is too much to handle — in the best way possible. Both brilliantly funny animated series in their own right, “Archer” and “Harvey Birdman” have a similar absurdity and action-oriented angle that could work really well together. Just think of Sterling Archer needing to go on trial, and having Birdman & the clan at Sebben & Sebben having to represent him.
If you can believe it, there have never been any “Archer” or “Harvey Birdman: Attorney-at-Law” comics — despite the traditional version of Harvey Birdman appearing in DC Comics’ “Future Quest” — and that needs to change as soon as possible. With so many strong comedic voices in comics, like Chip Zdarsky, Gerry Duggan and Dan Slott, there’s a whole lot of potential for Archer and Birdman to make a lasting impression. Now that DC has revived several Hanna-Barbera properties, it’s possible that they could move on to some of their more mature Hanna-Barbera-based series, like “Space Ghost: Coast to Coast,” from the ’90s.
3. Josie and the Pussycats/Jem and the Holograms
Want a crossover that would really make some noise? Perhaps the two greatest animated bands of all-time come from “Josie and the Pussycats” and “Jem and the Holograms.” Our natural inclination is to say these series need to crossover — immediately. Why not have both bands form a super-group, go head-to-head in a Battle of the Bands or even face an intergalactic threat together? No matter what happens, we know if there’s Josie and Jem rocking out on the cover of a comic, it has our money.
Both properties have seen a bit of a resurgence recently. For “Jem,” IDW’s latest run from Kelly Thompson and Sophie Campbell has been nothing short of exceptional, and Archie Comics’ upcoming “Josie” series from Marguerite Bennett, Cameron DeOrdio and Audrey Mok looks incredibly promising. Having the two groups meet for a musical comic book crossover for the ages? Yes, please.
2. Beast Wars: Transformers/Voltron: Legendary Defender
Everybody loves the original “Transformers” animated series, but… isn’t “Beast Wars: Transformers” — or, amazingly, “Beasties” as it’s known in Canada — a superior show? It certainly had advanced CG animation for the time that (despite looking a little clunky today) managed to translate the action and emotional impact. There are a lot of fans of “Beast Wars” who would be more than on board if it were revived — so why not bring the franchise back in a “Voltron: Legendary Defender” comic, which has a similar fan base?
Netflix’s new “Voltron” animated series has proven to be a smash hit with fans and critics, and its extraterrestrial backstory make it a great property to pair with the beloved ’90s take on “Transformers.” Apart from both featuring robot animals, the crossover could make for a fun reunion with classic versions of Voltron, in addition to fan-favorite Maximals and Predicons.
1. The DC Animated Universe’s Batgirl & Supergirl/Powerpuff Girls
The animated versions of Batgirl and Supergirl on “Batman: The Animated Series,” and later “The New Batman Adventures” and “Superman: The Animated Series,” are quite possibly two of the best versions of both characters. In the “New Batman Adventures” episode “Girl’s Night Out,” the duo team-up up to take on Livewire, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy in an incredibly fun outing that showcases the charm and brilliance of both characters. To see both incarnations return to comics, in any form, would be a treat — and crossing over with “Powerpuff Girls” could be a great way to bring them back.
“Powerpuff Girls” carries the tradition, started by Supergirl and Batgirl, of awesome youthful female superheroes, while having their own unique adventures and villains in their own right. The strong personalities of Blossom, Buttercup and Bubbles make for an entertaining read in the recent IDW comics. Paired alongside Barbara and Kara, there could be one heck of a dynamic that’s yet to be explored in comics. Plus, getting Bruce Timm or Ty Templeton to draw the issue (or at least covers) would be a major gift for classic DC Animated Universe fans.
Have your own wish list for potential animated comic book crossovers? Sound off in the comments with your picks!
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